Idiopathic CD4 Lymphocytopenia: Spectrum of opportunistic infections, malignancies, and autoimmune diseases

Avicenna J Med. 2013 Apr;3(2):37-47. doi: 10.4103/2231-0770.114121.


Idiopathic CD4 lymphocytopenia (ICL) was first defined in 1992 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the repeated presence of a CD4+ T lymphocyte count of fewer than 300 cells per cubic millimeter or of less than 20% of total T cells with no evidence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and no condition that might cause depressed CD4 counts. Most of our knowledge about ICL comes from scattered case reports. The aim of this study was to collect comprehensive data from the previously published cases to understand the characteristics of this rare condition. We searched the PubMed database and Science Direct for case reports since 1989 for Idiopathic CD4 lymphocytopenia cases. We found 258 cases diagnosed with ICL in 143 published papers. We collected data about age, sex, pathogens, site of infections, CD4 count, CD8 count, CD4:CD8 ratio, presence of HIV risk factors, malignancies, autoimmune diseases and whether the patients survived or died. The mean age at diagnosis of first opportunistic infection (or ICL if no opportunistic infection reported) was 40.7 ± 19.2 years (standard deviation), with a range of 1 to 85. One-sixty (62%) patients were males, 91 (35.2%) were females, and 7 (2.7%) patients were not identified whether males or females. Risk factors for HIV were documented in 36 (13.9%) patients. The mean initial CD4 count was 142.6 ± 103.9/mm(3) (standard deviation). The mean initial CD8 count was 295 ± 273.6/mm(3) (standard deviation). The mean initial CD4:CD8 ratio was 0.6 ± 0.7 (standard deviation). The mean lowest CD4 count was 115.4 ± 87.1/mm(3) (standard deviation). The majority of patients 226 (87.6%) had at least one infection. Cryptococcal infections were the most prevalent infections in ICL patients (26.6%), followed by mycobacterial infections (17%), candidal infections (16.2%), and VZV infections (13.1%). Malignancies were reported in 47 (18.1%) patients. Autoimmune diseases were reported in 37 (14.2%) patients.

Keywords: Autoimmune diseases; idiopathic CD4 lymphocytopenia; lymphopenia; opportunistic infections.